Tag Archives: Robert J Morgan

When You’re Married Almost SEVENTY YEARS… (“Great is Thy Faithfulness”)

Friends! Our family has been on an emotional roller coaster for several weeks over my Father-in-Love, Bill Hoagland.  He was taken into the arms of our Sweet Lord on Sunday, September 22nd. He would’ve been 92 this month.

A sympathy card we received in yesterday’s mail says, “A life is a continuous thread. It weaves itself through love and memory, and remains a part of everyone it has touched.”  My friend Jayne Combs, who sent the card said,

What a dear, dear thought.

Bill and Adeline are blessed with four children, two daughters-in-law, 12 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren for starters!  The number of friends who flowed thru’ the visitation and funeral were astonishing and such a beautiful blessing to all of us.

When planning Bill’s funeral (I called him “Possum” while our kids called him “Huggy”), all of John’s siblings, plus Marte and I, gathered at the Hoagland’s house Sunday afternoon and came up with thoughts for the obituary, favorite hymns for the funeral, etc. Many of our memories were like warm blankets, comforting us, making us laugh one minute and cry the next.

One of my favorite memories of Possum was watching him play the piano.  He could play be ear which always fascinated me.  When I met him for the very first time and shared I, too, play the piano (but NOT by ear!!!), I believe he decided I was okay to enter the family.  That was one of our fun things we could do together.

Possum frequently sported a bow tie.  At his funeral, there were twelve grandsons who became two teams of pallbearers, each wearing a bow tie.  That was one of many scenes causing us all to tear up.

The final honor guard presentation was a sight to behold:   Two young men from the Unites States Navy entered the sanctuary accompanied by taps, saluting the casket, reverently folding the flag, and presenting it to Adeline.  Not a dry eye existed, and I know Bill would’ve loved this.

Beyond all of Bill’s accomplishments, far and away were the heights he and Addie would go to for their marriage.  Addie often says, “He was always so kind to me.”

Those of you who knew Bill, know he and Addie were inseparable.  What one couldn’t do, the other could, always helping one another.  They sailed all over the city eating at many restaurants along the way. They would’ve been married SIXTY-NINE YEARS this November.

Below are a couple of older photos of the two lovebirds.  I think they look like movie stars!

One of the many lovely hymns sung at Bill’s funeral was “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Obediah Chisholm. Thomas was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky. Rob Morgan, in his book Then Sings My Soul:  150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories, tells us Thomas began teaching school at the early age of 16.

He came to Christ when he was 27 and because of numerous illnesses, went from job to job. Upon discovering his many new blessings each day, He wrote “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” taking the phrase from Lamentations 3:22-23,

The lyrics speak not only to our own faith in God, but I believe they speak to Bill’s devotion to Adeline and to his family:

Thomas wrote over 1,200 poems and hymns. His friend, William Runyan, is who composed the music to this song and many others.  He was so moved in particular by this one, Rob tells us “he prayed earnestly for special guidance in composing the music.”

The hymn didn’t take off at first.  Finally, Dr. Will Houghton of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago made “Great is Thy Faithfulness” an unofficial theme song for the school.  But who really made it popular was the one and only George Beverly Shea and the choirs at the Billy Graham Crusades. (These are only a few of the many fun facts you can learn from Then Sings My Soul.)

This summer, soon after our two new grandsons, Ford and Henry, were born, they got to meet Huggy. This tickled us pink to see so many generations.  There’s that thread Jayne taught us about.

When I stop and think John and I’ve been married thirty-five years, right about half of what Bill and Adeline were, I can’t imagine life without my “better two-thirds”.  Our family would covet your prayers for Adeline as this journey ahead will be challenging.

My sis-in-love, Marte, told me soon after both her parents died and mine were both gone as well, “Oh, but we’re only shortly separated.”  Amen and Amen.

Below are the “Fabulous Four Sibs” :  L-R:  Van, Billy, John and Margee, and a more recent photo of Bill and Adeline.


May it be said of us as we lean toward Heaven, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” And as Bob Hope used to sing, “Thanks for the Memories.” We miss you, Huggy!

‘Til next time!



Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grief

Why Biblical Meditation Brings Peace… (with help from Robert J. Morgan)

Friends! Is your spring fever producing heightened anxiety? Trying to calm down, but for whatever reason, you can’t? I’ve got good news for all of us!  Thanks to insight from author Rob Morgan, we can find true peace.  I’ll be sharing highlights from his excellent book, Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation—Find True Peace in Jesus.

I confess I didn’t know what “Biblical meditation” was until I read Rob’s book.  He tell us, “meditation is not new and it’s not new age. God, not the gurus, devised it, and it’s based on the Bible, not on Buddha.”

We know any time anything is repeated in the Bible, it’s significant.  We readers learn how many times references to  “meditation”, “pondering” and “thinking” occur, “encouraging us to engage our thoughts with His Word.”

Rob quotes J. I. Packer in his powerful book, Knowing God:

“…the words meditate and meditation occur 21 times in the Bible.

…the words think, thinking, and thoughts, 252 times.

Mind is mentioned 163 times,

And the word ponder  9 times.”

Still a tad on the skeptical side, I continued reading.  Clearly reading my mind, Rob point blank says, “If you’re a bit allergic to meditation, well….get over it.” I about fell out of my chair.

Then we readers are shown how many heroes from the Bible meditated, such as Isaac (Genesis 24:63), Joshua (Joshua 1:8), the Psalmist (Psalm 1:2-3), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:16), Mary the Mother of Jesus (Luke 2:19), Paul (Philippians 4:8 in the Message), the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 3:1), and even the Lord Jesus! (Mark 4:20 in the Voice).

Rob credits the Navigators for getting him started on Biblical meditation. They use the visual of a hand to help us understand.  Hold up your hand and consider your 2nd thru’ 5th fingers to “hear the Word, read the Word, study the Word, and memorize the Word.” Then consider your thumb, “strengthening the grip on meditation.”

Rob shows us many benefits of Biblical meditation:

Spiritual growth

Emotional strength

Deeper intimacy with the Lord

Soul-steadying peace

Healthier attitudes

Lest any of you fear the thought of memorizing Scripture (I’m nodding with you!), Rob has also written an excellent resource for this very thing:  101 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.

Quoting painter Paul Maze who had listened to Winston Churchill on the radio. Maze wrote telling Churchill how he’d allayed his fears, “Every word you said was like every drop of blood in a transfusion.”

Rob says, “And so it is for us with the Bible. Every word is like a transfusion of strength, of peace, of wisdom, of knowledge about both everyday life and eternal life.”

While each chapter has wonderful take home value, my favorite is Chapter Six: Gaining Insight into God’s Will. The concept of “standing in His council” will blow you away, never reading the Word the same again.

After the Conclusion, you’ll arrive at the golden nugget of the book:  We readers are gifted with examples of ten days of a “Meditation Guide” where we’re taught how to “Ponder”, “Personalize”, and “Practice” a portion of Scripture.

There are lined, blank pages after each example for you to make your own notes.  THIS IS WORTH A SMALL FORTUNE! Ah well, a wee exaggeration perhaps, but Rob’s suggestion to take these “ten passages, ten minutes, ten days”… is well worth your time. DO TRY THIS AT HOME!

Walk, don’t run, to your nearest bookstore and secure Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation!  Peace will pour over you like you’ve never experienced.  (Bravo, Rob for this tool!  Bravo to our Sweet Lord and His Word, where His well of wisdom never runs dry.)

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews

Guest Author, Robert J. Morgan, tells us about his new book: The Strength You Need—The Twelve Great Strength Passages of the Bible (Releasing August 16th!)

Friends! We are so blessed this week to get to hear from author and preacher Rob Morgan about his new book, The Strength You Need. I can’t wait to read it as every book Rob writes becomes my favorite.


Rob is the Teaching Pastor at Donelson Fellowship Church in Nashville, Tennessee. (www.donelson.org ) He’s been preaching, shepherding and serving there for thirty-five years. John and I go hear him preach whenever we’re in Nashville. His church is only five minutes from Opryland.

Rob has been most gracious to drive in from Nashville to speak at two book clubs I’ve had the pleasure of attending in Louisville. He came to Southeast Christian several years ago when we read his book One Hundred Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart. Last fall he came to Middletown United Methodist Church when we discussed The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times.



Rob and his lovely wife, Katrina, worked together on this newest book, The Strength You Need–The Twelve Great Strength Passages of the Bible. Katrina has been valiantly fighting multiple sclerosis for years. He told me that even tho’ she’s in a weakened state, she contributed a paragraph at the end of each chapter–all the more reason to want to read this book! (Please keep Katrina in your prayers.)

Rob and Katrina are about to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary with their family at the beach the end of this month. They’re blessed with three daughters and fourteen grandchildren. (You don’t want to miss their experiences in raising sheep when the girls were young in The Lord is My Shepherd—Exploring Psalm 23.)


Rob recently sent me an excerpt from his newest book.  Without further ado, let’s enjoy some wonderful words from our author while praying we can wait patiently for the August 16th release date of The Strength You Need

“From Strength to Strength”

By Robert J. Morgan

(Adapted from the conclusion of his book, The Strength You Need)

Last night I stood on the front porch and watched the sun descend like a burning plate behind the horizon. This morning while brushing my teeth, I saw the same sun arise on the opposite side, ascending over the tree line like a blazing disk. I thought of the old song, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run.”

Who knows how many days are left us in this world? How long until the Lord returns? Not long, I think. We have work to do and a cause to advance, and we need all the strength we can muster.

Psalm 84 tells the story of a pilgrim like us, a traveler preparing for his annual trek to Jerusalem for one of the great Jewish festivals. For him, the greatest thing was visiting the Jewish Temple, standing in its courtyards, listening to its choirs, and sensing the presence of the Lord God. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord,” he said in verse 2. But the trip was rigorous, dangerous, and demanding. Where would he find strength for the journey, especially through the hot valley of Baka?

He exclaimed in verses 5-7:

Psalm 84

We can learn from this Psalm. Our lives are a pilgrimage to the city whose architect and builder is God. We’re travelers tackling rugged terrain. As we press on, strengthened by the Lord, we leave blessings behind us. We turn waterless valleys into irrigated landscapes. We go from strength to strength, from day to day, from faith to faith, and from glory to glory. Along the way, the Lord will provide the strength we need.

Here are some power lines stretching from heaven right into your heart. These are some of the great strength passages of the Bible. My wife, Katrina, and I have searched these out and have written about them in my book The Strength You Need. Read them, and claim one of them for your pilgrimage today.

  • Your strength will equal your days – Deuteronomy 33:25.
  • The eyes of the Lord range to and fro throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him – 2 Chronicles 16:9.
  • The joy of the Lord is your strength – Nehemiah 8:10.
  • The Lord is our refuge and strength – Psalm 46:1
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13.
  • Out of His glorious riches He will strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16.



THANK YOU, ROB!!!  Blessings to you, your family, your church and please keep writing!

August 16th won’t come soon enough! May we stop and take hold of those “power lines” to strengthen us.

‘Til next time!

Comments Off on Guest Author, Robert J. Morgan, tells us about his new book: The Strength You Need—The Twelve Great Strength Passages of the Bible (Releasing August 16th!)

Filed under Book Reviews, Guest Post

WORSHIP: A Window and a Weapon…Back-to-School Survival Tips for Us Adults (Part 2 of 4)

Anyone been in a “mood” lately? Seems Back-to-School-Scurry wreaks havoc with all of us, even if we don’t have a student to dress, drop off, or pick up. Remember the saying, “If Mamma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy?” September simply screams for survival tactics.

Last week we focused on PRAYER with some survival ideas for you, your student, their teacher, and your family.

This week we’ll camp on something that can turn our moods around in a second: listening to music. Worship music has the power to turn all of our attitudes around.

Worship #2Recently, while watching a video of Matt Redman leading worship at the Passion Conference this year, I was struck by his vision of worship. He said, “Worship is like two things:

#1: It’s a WINDOW, that enables us to see God.


And #2: it’s a WEAPON which wards off the enemy.”

coat of arms medieval knight shield and crossed swords isolated

Consider these valuable visuals… I predict we all will have better attitudes, be better equipped and perhaps be a tad easier to get along with when we intentionally worship!!!

Before we get to a couple of songs, you MUST know God orchestrated quite a God-incident. Last Friday, I learned from my sister-in-law that her son-in-law, Chris Byrley, would be preaching at Throne of Grace Community Church. (www.throneofgracecc.org )

Naturally we wanted to go hear him. What do you s’pose his topic was? Yep: WORSHIP. “Worship and Beholding the Glory of God” from Isaiah 6:1-8. Do you love that? (I’ve had my four survival tips for y’all for September lined up for weeks. Worship being this very week’s topic!!!)

Chris delivered a superb sermon, walking us thru’ each verse, enlightening us on his well-chosen points which we could ALL relate to. He asked, “Do we truly behold God’s Glory or do we allow it to become too familiar, mundane, routine?” We were all nodding our heads…”Yes, we’ve all snuffed out the fire in our worship.”

Chris dubbed the below passage as “Biblical Lasik”….giving us better vision to behold the Lord of Hosts, who defines “Holy, Holy, Holy.”


In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:1-8

One of many pearls Chris offered comes from John Piper:

“The fuel of worship is a true vision of the greatness of God;

the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit;

the furnace made alive and warm by

the flame of truth is our renewed spirit;

and the resulting heat of our affections is
Fire flames on black background background
powerful worship,
pushing its’ way out in
                                                     bowed heads,
                                                               lifted hands, and
                                                                                     obedient lives.”

I’d like to share with you just two of my favorite worship songs, along with some of the lyrics. They instantaneously bring a healing balm to our fragile hearts. My prayer is you’ll have a refreshed and renewed attitude after reading (and hopefully singing) these:

The first song is Come As You Are sung by David Crowder.

Read slowly and savor the lyrics to Come As You Are – (My comments are in parentheses.)

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin (Don’t we ALL want to be rescued???)

Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal (There is NOTHING Heaven can’t heal. Don’t miss this repeated phrase!)

So lay down your burdens (Lay them down and LEAVE them at the Cross.)
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face (Yes, we can lift up our face no matter the situation.)

Oh Wanderer come home (Pray for all our prodigals to COME HOME.)
You’re not too far
Lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are (My favorite part! Come as you are…..

There’s hope for the hopeless (Hope!!! Don’t we ALL want hope??? Need hope???)

And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace

There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures (Rest for the weary that ENDURES!!!)

Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure”

The YouTube version with the lyrics is wonderful:

The second song is Oh God How I Need You sung by Matt Maher. This song kills me every single time. Read thru’ and savor these lyrics. (Again, I’ll comment in parentheses.)

“Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my REST
Without You, I fall apart (We must recognize we do truly fall apart without Him.)
You’re the One that guides my heart


Lord, I NEED You
Oh, I need You
EVERY HOUR I need You (Every hour, every minute, every second we need Him.)
My one defense
My righteousness

Oh, God how I NEED You

Where sin runs deep
Your grace is more (Grace is more!)
Where grace is found, is where You are

Where You are, Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Yes, where You are, Lord I am free (Don’t miss this! We are FREE!!!)
Holiness is Christ in me

*(Refrain—see above)

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay” (Yes, Jesus is our hope and stay. Amen.)

* (Refrain)

Now listen to it on YouTube:

Keep in mind these are just two of a multitude of worship songs to turn your mood around, helping you survive this back-to-school September. If you’re more prone to enjoy hymns (I love both contemporary and traditional), grab a copy of Rob Morgan’s Then Sings My Soul.


This past March, I did a three-part post on worship. (Yeah, sorta obsessed, but in a good way!!??!!) For more ideas on worship, please visit these LINKS:
Power Up Your Mornings with Worship”,
and “Transform Your Morning and Your Mood in Less than Ten Minutes”,
and “Mr. Music Please….Why We Mustn’t Argue Over Musical Styles of Worship”….

Now go hum a few bars….

Revel in God’s Glory.

Stay right here for the next two weeks when you’ll hear from some STELLAR authors on their take for two more tips on surviving September!

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Friends, Music, Scripture

Power Up Your Mornings With Worship: A New Discovery by Guest Author Elizabeth Jeffries (Plus FREE Book GIVEAWAY!!!) Part 3 of 3

It is with profound respect and admiration I present to you words written by my friend and mentor, Elizabeth Jeffries.  Elizabeth is the most determined person I know who will jump any hurdle with Godly vim and vigor.  Fear is not in her vocabulary.

One of many cases in point:  Not too long ago Elizabeth spent ninety days in Florence, Italy simply because it was on her bucket list. (For more fun twists on bucket lists, click here.)  John and I benefitted from her adventure as that particular year we took a trip to Italy which happened to end in Florence.  Elizabeth most graciously invited us to stay over with her three more nights.  Did she ever show us the town! EJ & me in Florence(We are pictured above in a charming little church in Florence, Italy.  Elizabeth had just delivered a lovely, challenging talk to students where missionaries she knows minister. Note below Elizabeth wrote a book about her Italian adventure!!!)

90 Days in Florence

In Elizabeth’s post, you’ll also see her dear Summit Sisters, many of whom I’m blessed to know.  These are some serious, Godly women who gather to glean from God’s Word.  They include:  Liz Curtis Higgs, Naomi Rhode, Gail Wenos, Glenna Salsbury and Elizabeth.

Please enjoy Elizabeth’s fun discovery along with its’ many benefits (and ***don’t forget to comment at the end to be in a drawing for Rob Morgan’s book,  Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories!!!***)

Here’s Elizabeth:

In the past sixteen annual retreats with my four Summit Sisters, we have sung old Gospel hymns as part of our study weekend.  Ok, THEY sang hymns while I tried to follow along and mouth some of the words that I knew not, even if some of the melodies were familiar.

My earlier Catholic tradition had some beautiful songs, but most of the old Gospel hymns were foreign to me.  I envied the joyful expressions of my Sisters when they belted out the words, their beautiful faces almost other-worldly as they praised our Lord through these old hymns. Eliz Jeffries group photo I oftentimes felt a bit left out. So finally, this year at our January retreat, I decided I would learn some of these old hymns too. Our teacher, Glenna Salsbury, suggested I order Robert Morgan’s book, Then Sings My Soul and not only learn the hymns, but the story behind them. In my do-it-now style, I immediately went on line and ordered the book! Rob Morgan Then Sings My Soul By the time I arrived back in Louisville, the book was waiting for me. Its’ beautiful parchment pages called to me as I thumbed through and, oh my heavens, I actually recognized some of the hymns! Maybe I wasn’t so far out of the Christian music world as I thought!!??

Since that day in early January, I’ve created a morning routine I follow wherever I am in my travels. I gather up my Bible, my iPad, the Then Sings my Soul book, and a highlighter. I open the book, read the story of who wrote the song and the circumstances under which it was written, log onto You Tube, find the hymn and do my darndest to sing along with the likes of Carrie Underwood, Beverly Shea or the Gaithers. Bible Study Ok, Lord, you gave me this voice, so ignore that I’m off key and can’t read sheet music too well. Please just listen to me praise you and feel my love for you and the joy of worshipping this way!

I’m at page 64 now and I can’t wait to meet Jesus this way every day. Several mornings my hubby walked in while I was belting out a joyful praise and he joined me! Oh how sweet that was. Thank you Lord!

If you haven’t consciously worshipped this way, perhaps these ideas will enliven your spirit as they have mine. Here’s my take away from this book, this process, this amazing way to worship our Lord…

  • I’m worshipping from the depths of my soul in a way I’ve never experienced before. Worship music touches every fiber of my being and brings out feelings and visions of God in new and exciting ways. I hear His voice and see His face! He really, really is alive!
  • Since many of the hymns are actually from Psalms and other words of Scripture, I’m studying and learning too.
  • I’m learning about composers and when and why they wrote these words. I now know who some of the greats are: people like Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, and Charles Wesley are my new friends.
  • Since I listen to the music and sing the hymn several times in my morning worship, the words and music stay with me all day. I find I fall asleep singing in my head with a smile on my face.
  • If I have an early flight, I may do this on the plane with ear phones. I feel my seat mate glancing out of the corner of his eye. No one has asked anything yet and only the Lord knows how this has impacted them…or not. Hmmm! Maybe that person is humming a different tune that day!
  • I’m so much more conscious of Jesus throughout the day. I hope I’m more attentive to others as the words of the morning hymn twirl through my brain. I think I am living more intentionally. I sure smile and laugh a lot more.
  • Jesus is more alive to me than ever. His Amazing Grace really is amazing and I have His Blessed Assurance of salvation that I experience as I walk In the Garden with Him. Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus as I strive to live out, minute by minute, How Great Thou Art! Indeed, Lord! All is Well With My Soul!

Thank you for these great ideas, Elizabeth!!!  Blessings to you and your sweet hubby Stephen!!!  I look forward to seeing you soon!  Starbucks??? —–

Elizabeth Jeffries is oftentimes referred to as a marketplace minister!  She is committed to bringing Biblical principles to people in businesses, healthcare organizations and professional associations. With God’s Word as her foundation, she presents keynote speeches, conducts learning seminars and retreats, and coaches business leaders in the way of a servant-leader.

—– ***Please offer your comments and you will be entered to win a FREE COPY of Then Sings My Soul!***

(Next week look forward to one more idea to implement before Lent ends or perhaps post Easter!!!  Plus yet ANOTHER free book giveaway!!!)  

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews

Surviving the Season of Christmas – Part 1 of 4, The Sure Cure for a Bah Humbug Attitude

Greetings, friends! The below post is a reprise well-worth repeating to inspire you with an idea for this Christmas season.

It’ll help you cope with our culture’s craziness. It’ll help you survive this season of Christmas!

I’m thrilled to report this very fun tradition lives on….

Check it out:

Just wondering, now that Thanksgiving’s past and that Christmas décor’s been up since Halloween (in some stores that is, surely not in this household!), if you have a KICK in your step while shopping, or if you are SLIP-SLIDIN’-AWAY, Scrooge-like?

Grunge Scrooge With a Small Gift

Don’t even talk to me if you’re done with your Christmas shopping.  And don’t even look this way if you’ve shopped and wrapped.

Christmas isn’t happenin’ today, the way Jesus intended it to.  For that, I’m certain.  Every single year I try to think of ways to “taper down” on the gift-giving, think of the less fortunate, donate to new charities/ministries, and yet I still wind up looking more like Santa’s helper/enabler than a child of God.  Big sigh.Santa's Elf on Sign EdgeThe commercialization of Christmas makes me say “Bah humbug”…and I’m determined to NOT let it get the best of me. Lord, please help us  focus on you.  Matthew 6:33 reminds us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Praying Friends

So, now that the Christmas season’s officially “on”… no thanks to some poor souls opening up on Thanksgiving Day (really?), Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., I’d like to give you one prescription sure to bring a smile to your face, and a cure for any “Bah Humbug” attitudes trying to surface.

I am beyond blessed to have a very fun cousin.  Her name is Bonnie, and we in the family call her “Martha”, as in Stewart.  She’s one of those creative types:  she can whip up the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever seen. Friends now recognize them sayin’, “Now THAT’S a “Bonnie Bow”!!!

Bonnie will also try any new recipe.  She’ll paint a room an entirely new color when the mood strikes.  Furthermore, she will absolutely, positively, do anything for anyone, at any time, just for starters.

A few years ago, Bonnie came up with this fabulous idea…  She invited a group of our friends, a/k/a “the Butter Babes” over for a gift wrapping party.  Soup simmerin’ on the stove, Christmas music in the air, pool table covered as our wrapping station, and we move in for the day.


What’s great about this is she sets the date way ahead of time (novel idea!) so we know when our deadline is…as in if you want to wrap a pretty package, you’d better have done some shopping and have packages in tow!

The five of us man our stations and the wrapping begins.  (Did I mention her endless supply of reams of paper and enough ribbon to extend to the moon?)  Oh, but the conversation around the table is the best.  You’re wondering if there’s a message here! Or what’s so spiritual about a wrapping party?

Well, you’ve got to know these Butter Babes.  These are some serious Bible study students and teachers.  These are some very close friends and mentors. These are some serious prayer warriors. They share meaningful Scripture. They share prayer requests. They share answered prayers.  They have lived a lot of life.  We laugh.  We cry.


One of my favorite verses depicting this friendship journey is found in Proverbs 27:17 which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (NIV)  It’s a huge blessing simply doing life with the help of dear friends who teach you to ultimately lean on the Lord.

Nary a  “Bah Humbug” erupts from this bunch. Nope, the Butter Babes would flat have a meltdown if such a phrase surfaced.  (Oh, I could have fun with that last phrase…)

Proverbs 27:7b says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”  Refreshing it is to be surrounded by such sweet sisters.  No Scrooges allowed!

Let me show you one more favorite verse to go along with our prescription:  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. “

The “sure cure” for a Bah Humbug attitude can be found straight out of the three above phrases I’ve italicized:

Spur one another on:  This means we cheer each other on toward the finish line…as in our Heavenly Home.

Not giving up meeting together:  Keep regular gathering times with your friends.  How many times have you heard “friends are cheaper than therapy”?  It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

I have another group of friends which includes a retired school teacher.  (Several actually, but one in particular is the glue that holds us together.)  Periodically, Jayne will shoot us an email with the tagline being:  “Random Dinner”.  She randomly picks a night and we show up to catch up.  Try it.  You’ll like it.

Encouraging  one another This goes hand in hand with spurring one another on. All three of these are great fuels for fanning the flame of friendship.

Kelly Minters Nehemiah

Kelly Minter’s  Bible study on Nehemiah—A Heart That Can Break offers a PERFECT DEPICTION of what I’m attempting to recommend to you regarding friendship.  She opines*, “The world doesn’t need more wealth, strength, power, or skill as much as it desperately needs trustworthy people.  My heart is never more at rest, my soul never more at peace than when I am in the presence of a person of integrity.

I find relational serenity in never having to second-guess what the person really meant, not having to dodge gossip or duck drama.  When I have the assurance that a person’s word is true, motives pure, and intents just, I have found a rare treasure indeed.”

Look again at those two above paragraphs.  Did you see that cool phrase, “relational serenity”?  What a sanctuary! What a safe haven!!!

Whether it’s a wrapping party, or a lunch out somewhere, or a Starbucks rendez-vous, I pray you’ll set a date with some of your friends and sail cheerfully thru’ this Christmas season, in relational serenity, sans any “Bah Humbugs”.

Purposefully celebrate Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV) Remember Christ’s Birthday.

Savor God’s gift.  As Liz Curtis Higgs said, “Let’s be forever grateful for the One whose birth changed everything.”  (Click here to see an interview with her…)


‘Til next time!

(This December post is happily dedicated to my long-time friend, cousin-by-marriage-who’s-more-like-a-sister, partner-in-crime in shopping, encourager extraordinaire, Bonnie Johnson. May blessings be abundant to you and your sweet family this Christmas season!!!)

*Lest you think I toss out unique words frequently, this one, “opine,” was a new one to me. Can’t believe I haven’t discovered this word ’til now.  I’m practically a professional at offering my opinion!  May we all opine with tact.

I ran across it twice in two days in two different books!  Both worth recommending:  one by Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage:  Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God and the other by Robert J. Morgan called Angels—True Stories—What Angels Do For Us.

Tim KellerRobert J Morgan




Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays

When You’re Paralyzed by Procrastination…(Part 3 of 3 from The Red Sea Rules—The God Who Led You in Will Lead You Out by Robert J. Morgan)


6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Middletown United Methodist Church!!!


Calling all procrastinators!!!….

Guessing there are a few of us…

I recently was a valiant procrastinator. There was a dress I especially liked in a catalog. By the time I finally phoned to place an order, it was fifty percent off! (That never happens.)

This time of year, our mailbox begins to list to the left. Caused of course, to the incredulous deluge of catalogs. Some unknown illness runs thru’ my brain and I’m paralyzed to throw them away.


My annual challenge drives me crazy…every single year, I pile up a bunch of dog-eared catalogs with that “perfect gift” for a loved one. I always tell myself to order before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving comes and goes, and into the trash go the catalogs. Sigh…

Recycle Bin And A Clock

One wise friend suggested we start giving consumable gifts rather than “stuff”. Edible or drinkable or spreadable somethings are smart options. Don’t forget all the “go local” ideas in your town. (Chocolate could do me just fine…)

Let’s get past the catalogs and go straight to the problem of “we” procrastinators…

One book I keep in my office is a fantastic visual. Motivational speaker Brian Tracy is the author of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.


Brian tells us, “Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go thru’ the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”

No, we don’t really have to eat a real-live frog, but if you’ll go for accomplishing your least favorite task on your to-do list, everything else will fall into place easier. Theoretically….

Brian’s book is by and large for people in the business world, but it can also apply to us trying to run a household and family. One of my favorite quotes deals with creative procrastination. (I’d rather be a creative procrastinator, wouldn’t you???!!!)

Reality is we simply cannot every get everything on our to-do list complete. “Therefore,” says Brian, “procrastinate on your small tasks, low-value activities. Get rid of the tadpoles and focus on the frogs.” God bless the tadpoles…


Let’s jump back into Rob Morgan’s excellent book, The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times. And get this on your calendar!!! Rob is driving in from Nashville to be with us at Middletown United Methodist Church, next Monday, October 27th!

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 www.middletownumc.org

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

Bring your neighbors and friends! Men are welcome! We’ll meet from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

The past two weeks we’ve discussed a handful of the “Ten God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times” from The Red Sea Rules. Two weeks ago we discussed Rule #3 and #4 in “We Need to Test for Leukemia”.  Last week we discussed Rule #5 in “When Your Safety Net Gets Clipped

This week we’ll discuss Rule #6 – “When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.” (Don’t forget I’ve only given you four of the amazing ten rules. Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this book and bring it next Monday to get Rob to sign it!!! It’s a handbook we all need.)

In Exodus 14, Rob reminds us, “The Israelites couldn’t see what was in the distance. They had no binoculars that could view Canaan or even the opposite shore. But the Lord gave them a simple plan: ‘Tell the children of Israel to GO FORWARD’.”

Rob shares about a nineteenth expositor, C. H. Mackintosh, who “believed the Red Sea did not divide throughout all at once, but opened progressively as Israel moved forward, so that they needed to trust God for each fresh step.”

One Step At A Time.

Mackintosh wrote, “God never gives guidance for two steps at a time. I must take one step, and then I get light for the next. This keeps the heart in abiding dependence upon God.”

This reminds me of another excellent book. While Stormie O’Martian is quite the prayer guru, she has also written a book that’s a huge source of comfort: Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On: Trusting God in the Tough Times.
just enough light

She says, “God says you are not to be anxious about tomorrow, for there will be plenty of things to concern you when you get there.

You are to walk as a child of light, knowing that your future can only be reached one step at a time today. And you are to trust that He will give you the light you need, where you are right now, to take the right step.”

Stairway To Forest, Erawan National Park,kanchanburi,thailand

Let’s all choose to pray:   Ask God where He would like our next step.

Rob Morgan suggests, “When you don’t know what to do next, cast out fear and seek light for the next step.” He adds, “Sometimes plodding is better than plotting.”

Just take that next step. Rob closes out this chapter by saying, “At the moment of their greatest perplexity, the Red Sea divided before the Israelites, and they took their first hesitant steps into the midst of the piled-up waters, timidly testing the sea floor and finding it a highway of hope—one that had to be traveled step-by-step, moment by moment.”

Let’s close with a hymn Rob includes in this reassuring chapter:

“Never a trial that He is not there,

Never a burden that He does not bear,

Never a sorrow that He does not share,

Moment by moment, we’re under His care.”

(Moment by Moment by Daniel W. Whittle)

Take the next step.

an athletic pair of legs on pavement during sunrise or sunset -

Eat the frog.

Pacman frog or toad, South American horned frogs Ceratophrys cor

God will guide you. Do you trust Him?

Cross over wood table

‘Til next time!

We’d love to see you Monday, the 27th! You will be so blessed to hear from Rob Morgan! Every book he’s written is a tremendous gift to us readers. Come join us!


Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Life Lessons